P6.7 billion Cebu City budget

Posted on October 18, 2012

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A “more realistic” budget of P6.7 billion and not P7.2 billion as earlier reported was proposed for approval by Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama to the Cebu City Council on Tuesday.

“Mayor Rama would have wanted a bigger budget but we at the Local Finance Committee are honest enough to admit that we can’t raise the amount,” said acting City Treasurer Emma Villarete.

Villarete said sticking to the initial P13 billion budget estimate would have meant increasing taxes, “something which I know the mayor would not also want.”

The mayor’s initial P13 billion budget was drawn up after a “People’s Consultation” attended by City Hall departments and sectoral stakeholders with the Local Finance Committee.

Rama’s 2013 budget is “close” to the “skin and bones budget” which former mayor and now Rep. Tomas Osmeña of Cebu City’s south district used to adopt during his administration, Villarete said.

A draft of the executive budget was given to the City Council secretariat late on Tuesday.

Councilor Margot Osmeña, the council’s budget committee chairperson, said she’s still waiting for a copy.

“I haven’t seen it so I still can’t comment on it. But I wanted to especially see the fund sources. Let’s see first if we have performed this year (and reached our collection targets) and then we can look at the budget for next year,” she said.

Before reviewing the executive budget, Osmeña said the council wanted to first focus on the P233 million supplemental budget which they will discuss in a budget hearing today.

The bulk of SB 2 amounting to P108 million will go to the P1,000 increase of senior citizens aid from P6,000 to P7,000 this year.

Senior citizens already received P3, 000 last July. The remaining P4,000 will be released in December if the SB outlay is approved.

Maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) top the items in the draft budget at P3.6 billion followed by personnel services at P1.4 billion.

MOOE includes aid to barangays at P800 million, operational expense at P782 million, senior citizen assistance at P600 million, utilities expense at P442.9 million and scholarship program at P300 million.

Also included were calamity funds at P202 million and garbage disposal fee at P100 million.

Villarete said the senior citizens aid of P350 million this year was increased to P600 million next year to fulfill the mayor’s promise of giving out P10,000 in cash assistance to each to Cebu City’s 60,000 senior citizens.

The P300 million appropriation for the city’s scholarship program already include the P1, 000 per semester allowance to city scholars to be released on top of the P10,000 per semester educational assistance.

Mayor Rama also raised to P100 million this year’s P27 million appropriation for payment of tipping fee for garbage brought to a private landfill in Consolacion town.

Lot disposal for revenue will focus on block 27 located at the North Reclamation Area and a piece of land located in between the main entrance of Waterfront Hotel in Lahug and the Honda showroom in barangay Lahug

The 3.3 hectare block 27 is pegged at P20, 000 per sq. meters and is expected to earn P674.7 million while the 2, 356 sq. meter Waterfront property is pegged at P25, 000 per sq. meters and is expected to earn P58.9 million.

Rep. Osmeña said these two properties shouldn’t be touched because these were already committed to lot swap proposals.

Block 27 is being eyed for a possible lot swap with the Cebu provincial government to save occupants of province owned lots covered by ordinance 93-1 from possible eviction.

The Waterfront lot was already offered to the Gochans in exchange for their properties now occupied by the Banawa Elementary School and urban poor families in sitio Laguna in barangay Lorega.

“That (the planned lot disposal) has to be discussed with the City Council,” said Rep. Osmeña. Villarete also said several items that weren’t included in the P6.7 billion budget were already submitted to the City Council secretariat.

Villarete said proponents of projects that weren’t included in the budget were asked to coordinate with concerned departments to work out engineering and cost estimates. If funding is available, these projects may be funded from next year’s supplemental appropriations, Villarete said.

The City Council passed a P5.4 billion this year. But as of Oct. 12, the city has collected P3.5 billion.

Villarete remains confident that they will be able to hit this year’s budget target due to real property and business tax collectibles for the last quarter of the year. /Doris C. Bongcac, Chief of Reporters

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